Theme: Transformational Leadership and good governance Lessons from the Awolowo Example

Preamble: The Obafemi Awolowo Foundation, a non-governmental organization set up with the mandate to generate ideas for national development organized a 2- day Special Dialogue with the theme ‘Transformational Leadership and Good Governance: Lessons from the Awolowo Example’ at Efunyela Hall, Ikenne. It was attended by leading civil society actors, scholars from home and abroad, political activists, students and the general public.  Papers were presented on the following sub-themes ‘Leadership and Governance in Nigeria: Challenges, Problems and Prospects’, ‘Leadership, Governance and the Development Agenda’; ‘Leadership Recruitment in Nigeria: The Impact of Contemporary Politics and the Role of Political Parties’, ‘The Generational Debate’, ‘Making Leaders: Challenges before the Educational Sector, ‘The Nigerian Economy; The Imperative for an Enabling Environment ‘Socio-cultural Considerations, Comparative Perspectives and Lessons from Other Lands’ ‘The Nigerian Youth: What Manner of Future Leaders?’ and ‘Key Players: The Judiciary and The Media’. After exhaustive deliberations the dialogue observed as follows:

·       Awolowo was an embodiment of the concept of leadership by ideas. Today many of our leaders are not sure of where they are going. Awo is on the same pantheon as Ghandi, Mandela, Abraham Lincoln, Moses and Martin Luther King. There is no argument about what he represented and where he wanted to go.
·       All the nations with whom we started the race for development have left us far behind. The main reason is the profligacy of our leadership; indeed without oil the nation will have nothing left after servicing the political system.
·       Much of our media exemplifies our dysfunctional federal structure; blatant partisanship and corruption are disabling factors affecting the performance of the media.
·       Transformational leadership is impossible without bold visions and imagination.
·        Awo encouraged a culture of discussion, consultation and robust debates from which policies emerged. He set up discussion groups from which recruitment into leadership positions were also made.
·       The crisis in the Nigeria education has resulted in the mass production of ill trained and poorly skilled individuals who cannot compete in the global market.
·       Many youths are engaged in anti-social behavior having imbibed wrong values based on crass materialism rather than service. There is a disconnect between the older and the younger generation with the result that mentoring and leadership training have been poorly carried out.
·       An active, discerning and critical followership is required to put leaders on their toes and to ensure that the social contract is not observed in the breach.
·       The nation ought to revisit Awo’s enduring thoughts on federalism as a way of resolving the national question.

As a result the following recommendations were made:
·       We need to reengineer the country to that of a producer nation that emphasizes wealth creation rather than sharing and consumerism. Citizens must be empowered to assist in the transformation from import- dependence to export-led industrialization.
·       Expand the economy and create jobs by investing in education, infrastructure and provision of basic services.
·       The nation ought to return to true federalism which promotes competitive communalism and drives wealth creation by empowering the poor to work their own way out of poverty.
·       De-emphasize strong man rule and empower the institutions of the state for democratic consolidation and effective governance.
·       Our current leaders should embrace true transformational leadership qualities as exemplified by Awo; qualities such as honesty, vision, trust, self-confidence and immense personal discipline.
·       Scrupulously enforce the provision of Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007.
·       The constituency allowances for legislatures at all levels should be immediately abolished given that it is illegal, unconstitutional, corruptive and unethical.
·       The Foundation should set up mechanisms to monitor the developmental performance of governments as an instrument of encouraging accountability.
·       The Foundation should sponsor expert presentations on governance issues to government at all levels. The Foundation should ensure wider dissemination of the critical messages and data coming out of the dialogue.
·       The Foundation should ensure that all the books written by Chief Obafemi Awolowo are produced at affordable cost and made widely available as compulsory reading at various levels of the educational system.
·       The Foundation should facilitate a national summit of the media, print and electronic.
·       The Foundation should design a national prize in the name of Obafemi Awolowo to reward leadership and good governance.
·       The Foundation should commission experts to write books on Awolowo for different levels of the educational system.
·       In the place of the elusive Vision 20:20, government should focus on issues of poverty, unemployment and inequality.


Dr. Olatokunbo Awolowo Dosumu
Executive Director, Obafemi Awolowo Foundation.

© Obafemi Awolowo Foundation. All rights reserved. 2012.
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